Former pupils at Tony Blair’s old private school Fettes College claim there was a ‘culture of racism’ which left students feeling ‘dehumanised’ as they tell of mock ‘slave’ auctions at £36,000-a-year institution
- Annual ‘tradition’ of a pupil ‘slave’ auction is understood to have ended in 2013
- Involved prefects volunteering themselves as ‘slaves’ to be bought by pupils
- Former pupils said the auctions were part of a ‘culture of racism’ at the school
Former pupils of Tony Blair’s old private school Fettes College have claimed there was a ‘culture of racism’ which left pupils feeling ‘dehumanised’, as they told of mock ‘slave’ auctions.
The annual ‘tradition’ is understood to have ended in 2013, but it was alleged posters would be plastered on the walls advertising a ‘sale’ at the £36-000 a year boarding school, in Edinburgh.
Teachers were said to be aware of the initiative, which involved prefects volunteering themselves as ‘slaves’ being bought for charity by pupils who could then ‘control them.’
The annual ‘tradition’ is understood to have ended in 2013, but it was alleged posters would be plastered on the walls advertising a ‘sale’ at the £36-000 a year boarding school, in Edinburgh
The school has deemed the allegations ‘distressing’ and said it was ‘determined to learn from the experiences’ of former pupils.
Saffy Mirghani, 25, who attended the school in sixth form from 2011-13, is compiling testimonies of black and ethnic minority students to present to the school, but white former classmates have reiterated her allegations.
She said: ‘The very lifeblood of the school is a culture of racism. They live in 1960s Britain and are several decades behind the rest of Britain.
‘It’s endemic to students, teaching staff and pastoral staff. The slave auction just allowed the most disturbing and nefarious qualities and the most troubled students to percolate to the surface.
‘It was really quite frightening because it’s a topsy turvy world where the saner students realised the practices and behaviour to be strange.
‘They were quietly whispering, ‘is it not weird there is a slave auction?’ and feel they don’t have a right to openly condemn it, whereas people engaging in insane behaviour are doing it openly.’
She claimed white pupils made comments such as ‘black people are the dumbest race ever’ within her earshot.
Ms Mirghani, who is now studying a PHD in Russian Literature at University College London, said she did not report it to teachers at the time because the behaviour was so ‘normalised’ despite the fact it ‘dehumanised’ her.
Femi Babbington-Ashaye, who was in the year below her, recalled one male pupil, in the presence of both himself and another student, saying: ‘I will make Femi my slave.’
The 24-year-old, who now lives in London, did not report it to teachers at the time but added: ‘Any time someone makes a comment like that, there should be severe consequences.
‘I was irritated but should have been angrier than I was.’
Law student Geordie Milne, 25, who is white, witnessed the mock auctions and believes the only reason they were stopped was because so-called ‘owners’ would sometimes ‘take it too far’.
Mr Milne said: ‘Casual racism was widespread and normalised and it was certainly something that was really not called out often or addressed.’
Another former Fettes pupil, who is black, and spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was subjected to frequent racist comments such as being asked whether he ‘had fresh water at home’ or if he ‘went to school under a tree’.
A spokesman for Fettes College said: ‘Racism in any form by staff or students is not tolerated at Fettes and it is distressing to read these accounts from former students.
‘Inclusion is a core value of the school about which we will never be complacent.
‘The work of the student-led Fettes Equality Society, combined with that of the staff-led Equality Group, aims to ensure that diversity and inclusion across race, sexuality, gender and disability in the school is understood and enacted by all in our community.
‘They meet regularly to discuss all school policies, to educate and to organise training for both staff and students.
‘We would encourage any former student to contact the College to discuss their concerns directly and openly, so we can learn from their experiences.’
Source: Read Full Article